A morning with Lionel Robberds | Leichhardt Rowing Club

Published Sat 24 Feb 2024

Updated 5 March 


For many sports supporters, it was an emotional gathering on 2nd March last, when two Olympians both former rowing champions from last century, met for a surprise reunion at their old Club.   

LIONEL ROBBERDS AM.KC had represented Australia as a teenage rowing coxswain at both the Commonwealth Games in 1954 Vancouver (wining gold), and  1958 Wales (winning silver and bronze), and in 1960, as the coxswain of the only Australian crew to make a final at the 1960 Olympic Games (5th placed in the men's coxed four) in Rome. He was later to become an Australian Squash Champion and World Champion coach in that sport.. Lionel is currently Patron of Leichhardt Rowing Club but is now in serious ill health.

JOHN HUDSON now living on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland,  and as a former NSW Champion Schoolboy oarsman, became a crew member of that victorious 1959 NSW State crew at Perth in the Kings Cup, winner of the Australian Championship in 8 oar rowing at the time and also coxed by Lionel Robberds.  Both are the last surviving members of the 1960 Olympic crew steered by Lionel.  John was Club Captain of Leichhardt in the 1964/65 season.

Both Olympians continued to represent their club and New South Wales in subsequent elite competitions  Lionel in 1964 and John in both 1963 and 1964. This last meeting after nearly 60 years of their close friendship in Rowing, was attended by Lionel's wife Sandra and family and John's wife Jenn.

Acknowledgements led by Club President, Jim Harrowell, Gillian Moore AO (Pymble Ladies College), Steve Roll, former Australian representative, and Daniela Borgert (LRC Captain), and many well known active supporters and former competitors, preceded the display of Lionel's memorabilia.  This was presented by his wife Sandra and daughter, Christina and son Craig which included photographs, his well used superseded homemade megaphone of the 1950's, his Olympic framed Presentation, and the original rudder from that historic Australian Championship win with John in 1959.

Their reunion concluded with an actual replay of that 1959 Kings Cup  ABC commentary in Perth, in which New South Wales finally defeated Victoria, after 7 years of dominance over that last 3 mile event.  The Kings Cup distance was then changed to 2000 metres.  It was not won again by NSW until 1965. 

It was a wonderful morning where age may weary many of us;  but as long as we live, we try never to forget.

The Australian Rowing Championships this year commence on 18th March at the Sydney International Regatta Centre, Penrith, with Paris, France, hosting the XXXIII Olympic Summer Games, 26th July  - 11th August where a strong rowing contingent
will represent Australia.

Barry Moynahan OAM


On Saturday, 2nd March at 10.00am, Patron of Leichhardt Rowing Club, Lionel Robberds A.M.Q.C, with his wife Sandra, intends to visit Leichhardt Rowing Club in spite of his ongoing health issues,

As a Life Member, Olympian, Australian Representative in dual sports and noted Legal Counsel,  there would be a number of friends and former associates who may like to pop in and say hello.

For those younger rowers unfamiliar with Lionel’s contribution which began in 1948, it is an opportunity to meet Lionel, who will be welcomed by our current Club President Jim Harrowell, who has shared a common interest with Lionel on legal matters over many years.

Barry Moynahan
Life Member - Leichhardt Rowing Club